From Nairobi to Victoria Falls

On Friday the 7th of June 2013, in Nairobi, at the closing ceremony of the ESARBICA XXII General Conference it was announced that Zimbabwe would host the next Conference in 2015. The news was received with great joy especially among delegates from Southern Africa and Zimbabwe specifically. Zimbabwe had a delegation of 7 people inclusive of two National Archives staff. These were the most excited but I had mixed feelings just as my Director Mr Murambiwa.

I didn’t know the full implications of hosting such a conference because it was my first time to attend such a conference let alone to present. In his speech as the new incumbent of the post of Vice President, Mr Murambiwa acknowledged that Kenya had set the bar high and it was no easy task for Zimbabwe to exceed or surpass. The pace had been set as Kenya drew approximately 350 delegates. There was less talk on the 8th as we flew back.

Gymnastics started within the following 2 months as working committees were set. I initially thought it was too early. On the 9th of June 2014 NAZ successfully celebrated the International Archives Day. The platform managed to set the tone that NAZ was now geared to engage all stakeholders and prepare for ESARBICA 2015. The gathering ascertained that NAZ clientele never wilts.

The 27 October World Day for Audio Visual Heritage was celebrated under the theme:ARCHIVES AT RISK: MUCH MORE TO DO Again NAZ managed to come up with an event in recognition of the day. Utmost motive was to conscientise our clients of the state of things with audio visuals at NAZ. The deliberations which centred on the Collection Development Policy on Audio Visual Archives opened many grey areas. It supported the theme for the forthcoming conference:Archives Uses, Abuses And Underutilization.

Collage of pictures As NAZ celebrated International Audio Visual Day: left NAZ Director Mr Murambiwa stressing a point, center Mr F. Mupfunya Culture Fund Executive Director gives his speech as (right) audience which included artists, researchers and many stakeholders listened

These events among many unlisted ones were a real barometer to the suitability of the theme and sub-themes. There is great resonance between what the organisers and what our immediate stakeholders are anticipating. The barometer gauged well and the destination Vic Falls is so near and we wish all intending travellers to be there safely

The crocodile, Tamatie and the coming of Esarbica to Victoria Falls 2015

John Walter-Soper popularly known as Jack Soper was a Londoner born in 1876, came to Southern Rhodesia via South Africa and settled in Victoria Falls in 1905 where he got his first job as a toll-collector at the Victoria Falls Bridge. In 1906, the toll on the bridge was abolished and he resorted to being the guard at the scenic bridge. In 1908, his friend, Mr Watson took him to Australia considering that he would brighten his life prospects. Alas, in 1909 he was back in Victoria Falls and started developing interest in trapping wild animals and domesticating them; baboons, leopards and crocodiles mainly. He was an expert in crocodile habits which saw him dubbed the ‘Crocodile King’. By the time of his death in 1953 he had one big crocodile named Sam under his custody.

Victor Clark, born in 1903 at Livingstone resided in Victoria Falls much of his life. Clark, nicknamed ‘’Tamatie’,’ one always putting a neck tie, was the first one to drive a car (a Model T Ford) from Vic Falls to Hwange and back same day. The journey, which started at 6am, was completed at midnight. Tamatie was the photographer at the unveiling ceremony of David Livingstone statue and the opening of the power station by Sir Hubert Young in 1935. From a historical perspective, it will be 80 years after this memorable experience of Tamatie in his settler life.

Capt. J.J Reynard a member of the BSA Police and Regimental Association, a veterinary scientist, farmer, intelligence officer and great curator of the Victoria Falls from 1932 left a legacy of classic exhibitions in the resort town. He was the first to represent Southern Rhodesia regionally in the 1930s at an exhibition in Johannesburg.

The coming of ESARBICA in 2015 as a platform drawing delegates from the East and Southern African region serves to cement these dying memories of our country of those whose life activities are documented and confirm the role of NAZ as a national historical repository. ESARBICA will blend these aspects of appreciating nature, our natural heritage, our documentary heritage and exhibitions and tours to the game reserves among intellectual discourse engagements on issues to do with heritage and information management. Anyone who has been to Vic Falls will never afford to leave for good as what John Walter-Soper did.

A recent visit to the venue by the Organising Committee left everyone satisfied with the suitability of the host town upon considering aspects such as accessibility (transport networks), accommodation, entertainment, security, public health among other key resources. No wonder why Zimbabwe has managed to host the 2013 UNWTO Summit, the 2014 SADC Heads of State Summit, the 2014 SADC Council of Ministers and the SADC Lawyers Association’s 15th Annual General Meeting and Conference all successfully hosted in the resort town of Victoria Falls. ESARBICA automatically follows suit.